Our Communities Make Us Strong –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
I’ve come to realize that the main strength of the diving industry is our sense of community. Think about it. What we all have in common is the fact that we are scuba divers. As a whole, we are individuals, adventurers, explorers, risk takers, environmentalists, and water men & women. We are out-going, gregarious, and social individuals. Learning to scuba dive and being active in the recreation takes a special kind of person with a curiosity and respect for the unknown. When we meet another scuba diver, we like to say, You’re a diver? Me too! But there is a potential down side to diving communities. If taken too far, it could lead to fragmentation, isolation and the decline of the diving industry. Let’s look at the different types of diving communities.
Regional Diving Communities: I’ve been working on building Regional Diving Communities for a number of years now. I always thought of the International Diving Community as being broken down into Regional Territories. i.e. Continents, Countries, Territories. We always think about the Local Diving Community when we get involved in Regional Dive Shows. Beneath the Sea brings the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Dive Communities together. Our World Underwater caters to the North Central Dive Community. Scuba Show has done an excellent job bringing the California and Southwest Dive Communities together. These shows have historically been the annual highlight of their respective community for many years. Regional diving communities are a very important concept to promote. Unfortunately, we are seeing the decline of our regional diving community concept as seen in the Pacific Northwest, the South Central Territory and recently in the Greater Chicago Area or North Central Territory.
With the advent of the Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show being cancelled this year and having to be rescheduled for 2021, our Association began examining the causes of this regional decline. I think I may have something here and I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought and get back to me.
We still have a strong sense of being a part of a scuba divers community. Being a Scuba Diver is still special but only a small percentage of our population are divers. With the advent of international dive travel, the desire to dive locally has declined and so has our willingness to affiliate with a favorite local dive shop. The internet has made dive travel and equipment purchasing much easier and we have lost the social aspect of being involved in a local dive club and local dive store community. Still, this doesn’t explain the paradigm shift in the makeup of dive communities.
Occupational Communities: Another type of community that is very important in our industry is the occupational community. Dive Equipment Manufacturers have their community and so do Retail Dive Centers. The Dive Travel Community is an especially close-knit group. They share clients a lot and many times have worked for their competitors at one time or another. The Sales Rep Community is very strong in our industry due to the fact that a lot of reps work for many different companies and usually bounce from one company to another over their career. Sales Reps probably have more in common with each other than some of the other occupational communities.
Certification Agency Communities: I almost don’t want to write about this one. Over the past 45 years, I’ve seen both the good side of these communities and the bad side. Identifying with a particular vendor or brand can be a very positive thing for a company or an individual. If orchestrated properly it can bring large groups of dive industry professionals together for a successful event, meeting or gathering.
Dive Show Component Communities: This is one community I hope to work with more this year. Here’s why: 1) I believe in Regional Dive Communities. 2) I believe that Regional Dive Shows are a local community’s major annual event. 3) I believe that our industry must work to improve and strengthen our Regional Dive Shows. With that said, I want to state why I feel that a regional dive show is made up of nine separate dive communities. I don’t want to put a priority on any one of the groups because I feel that all of the groups are needed to make an annual event successful. A balanced regional dive show is made up of workshops, seminars, film shows, exhibits, meetings, social events, sponsors, show staff, and attendees. Each section has their own dive community. Members of each community usually know each other, hang together, dive together and socialize together at regional events. Sometimes they know members of the other communities, many times, they don’t.
In order to keep this editorial short, I have written a separate blog on the subject of Dive Show Component Communities where we go into full detail on the nine component groups of a successful regional dive show. Stay tuned to this blog site.
We have all belonged to various communities in our life. Some of us are Veterans. That’s a large community. We may have also belonged to other specialty communities like Navy Divers, Police Officers, Submariners, Special Warfare Units, you name it. Each specialty group brought its own recognition and significance. The scuba diving community is like that. We all have that in common and it could be very comfortable and what binds us together.
Where this all ties in is our efforts to grow our businesses and our industry. A number of Industry Professionals are looking out at other industries to increase their economical potential. Looking for greener pastures and better hunting grounds may be a novel idea, but you have to be very careful when you allocate your resources of time, money and manpower. A good example is participating in an expensive travel show that has more attendees than a competing regional dive show. Some companies may be willing to pay more money for booth space because the show draws more attendees but will it result in more potential customers for your type of business? 5% of a larger number may not be as good as 95% of a small number. If crossing over into another industry destroys our regional diving community we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. That’s not something to take lightly.
The only thing that is going to allow our industry to grow is to get all of our Dive Industry Professionals to work together to build our regional diving communities and their local events and businesses. I honestly feel that “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”
For more information, contact Gene Muchanski at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: This week, the industry lost a very special person. Mike Hanna suddenly passed away, apparently from a heart attack. I first learned of Mike’s passing from friends in the Sales Rep Community, who were very close to Mike over the years. When a tragedy happens, it’s usually our friends and family who are the first to know. Our condolences to Mike’s family and friends. He will be missed.